March 8, 2011
Starting Five: No. 11 Georgia Tech (13-17, 5-11) vs. No. 6 Virginia Tech (19-10, 9-7)
By Jon Cooper
VIRGINIA TECH LEADING SCORER: Malcolm Delaney, 18.8 ppg
VIRGINIA TECH LEADING SCORER, ACC: Malcolm Delaney, 18.7 ppg
VIRGINIA TECH LEADING REBOUNDER: Jeff Allen, 10.0 rpg.
VIRGINIA TECH LEADING REBOUNDER, ACC: Jeff Allen, 10.3 rpg.
TECH PPG: 68.6/67.1 (ACC)
OPP. PPG: 67.3/68.9 (ACC)
VIRGINIA TECH PPG: 71.1/70.3 (ACC)
OPP. PPG: 63.1/66.1 (ACC)
Virginia Tech Player to Watch: Jeff Allen: While Tech surely will be watching for Malcolm Delaney, the school’s first two-time All-ACC First-Team selection, senior forward Jeff Allen, a Second-Team All-ACC selection, has actually done more damage to the Yellow Jackets. The senior forward averaged 21.5 points and 12.5 rebounds in the two games this season and dominates the paint. Allen, the ACC’s ninth-leading scorer (15.2 ppg) and third leading rebounder (10.3 rpg) is the only active ACC player with 1,600 career points, 1,000 career rebounds and 200 career steals. His next blocked shot will make him the first player in conference history to record 1,500 points, 1,000 rebounds, 200 steals and 150 blocks.
Georgia Tech looks to carry the momentum gained from a 2-0 final week of the regular season into postseason, when they begin ACC Tournament play against Virginia Tech. Tip-off at Greensboro Coliseum is scheduled for 9:30 p.m.
The 11th-seeded Yellow Jackets closed out 2010-11 with an emotional and hard-fought 66-57 victory over Miami in the final game at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. Second-Team All-ACC pick Iman Shumpert led the way with 19 points, while seniors Lance Storrs (15 points) and Moe Miller (14) also had big games on Senior Day. The Jackets, who will shoot for their first three-game winning streak since mid-November, overcame a seven-point halftime deficit to upend the Canes. Tech was 2-1 in neutral-site games this year.
The sixth-seeded Hokies come in sitting on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year, and have lost their last two games. It’s their first losing streak of the season. In their season finale Sunday at Clemson, they fell behind 19-8 and never caught up. Virginia Tech, the fourth-highest scoring team in the conference (0.2 ppg), has been held to 61 and 60 points in their season-ending losses. Tech is 4-1 this season on neutral courts but is 1-8 in games played against teams currently in the ACC in Greensboro Coliseum.
Georgia Tech has won only four of the 15 games in the series and once in the last five meetings, but that win came this season at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. The Jackets are 3-7 all-time against Seth Greenberg’s squad, but is 3-3 outside of Blacksburg.
Tonight’s game will be televised on the ACC Network (WATL), with Tim Brando calling the play-by-play, and Mike Gminski providing color. As always, the game can be heard on the Georgia Tech/ISP Sports Network’s flagship stations WQXI-AM (790 the Zone) and WYAY (106.7 FM). Wes Durham and Randy Waters call the action. Fans also can follow the game on Ramblinwreck.com.
Here now, the starting five for today’s game.
No One and Done: Precedent says Georgia Tech should bring at least one change of clothes, as the Jackets have won three straight ACC Tournament openers. In fact, under Paul Hewitt, the Jackets have won 60 percent of their openers (six-of-10). Included in that is a 73-54 win over Virginia Tech in the 2005 quarterfinals. The Jackets proceed to knock off North Carolina, 78-75, before falling, 69-64, to Duke in the Tournament Finals.
Malcolm In The Middle: Georgia Tech’s fate against the Hokies likely will depend on the ability to handle Malcolm Delaney. While easier said than done, it’s something the Jackets already have done this season. In the first match-up this season, a Georgia Tech 72-57 victory on Jan. 25 at Alexander Memorial Coliseum, they held Delaney to his lowest-scoring game of the season, eight points on 3-for-11 shooting, 3-for-8 from three. In the rematch in Blacksburg, on Feb. 13, however, Tech had no answer for Delaney, who scored 33 points on 9-for-14 shooting, 3-for-4 from three, 12-for-14 from the line, in a 102-77 loss.
Shump Card: A factor for Tech in defending Malcolm Delaney will be junior guard Iman Shumpert, who was named Second-Team All-ACC and, more important in this case, was selected to the All-Defensive Team. While Shumpert has been a stopper on defense, he has been unstoppable for the Hokies. In the teams’ first meeting, Shumpert went for a triple-double (22 points on 7-for-15 shooting), 12 rebounds and 11 assists). In the rematch, he scored 27 points, his third-highest game of the year, on 9-for-18 shooting, 6-for-13 from three. In the second game, however, he was limited to only three assists.
Welcome Back, Brian: Part of the reason Shumpert’s assists fell so drastically in the game in Blacksburg, and, arguably, the biggest difference between the first and second meetings between the teams — other than home court, obviously — was the presence of Brian Oliver in the first game and his absence in the second. Oliver led all scorers in the Jan. 25 game, going for 28 points on 11-for-18 shooting, 4-for-9 from three, the second-best day against Virginia Tech this season (Shumpert’s 27 was third). His points, field goals and attempts were season-highs in ACC play (his best day was Nov. 27 against Syracuse, when he had a 32-point day, going 12-for-21). The sophomore would play two more games before missing the final eight games with a thumb injury. He’ll return to action today.
Luckier Seven: Senior guard Lance Storrs matched his career high with seven three-point field goal attempts in Sunday’s season finale against Miami. It was a much happier post-game for Storrs than 11 days earlier following the game against Virginia, when he first set that personal high. Against the Hurricanes, the senior guard established his career high by making five of the seven attempts, in the process of netting a career-best 15 points in the win over Miami. He was 1-for-7 in the loss to UVa. Storrs was a force against UM, matching his career-bests for rebounds (seven), steals (three) and blocks (one).
The Sixth Man: Sunday marked only the second time in the last six ACC games that the Yellow Jackets lost the edge on the offensive glass, getting outrebounded 7-4. They were out-rebounded for the game, 37-28. The last team to beat the Jackets off the offensive glass was Virginia Tech, who held a 15-7 edge in the game in Blacksburg. They had a 42-21 edge for the game. Containing senior forward Jeff Allen will be crucial in winning the rebounding battle. A key will be the play of freshman center Daniel Miller, who, in two games against the Hokies has four total rebounds, one at the offensive end.